Real war preferable to ’5 Days Of War’
The film follows American correspondent Thomas Anders, with his cameraman Sebastian (better known to British audiences as Jeff from Coupling), as they witness various atrocities committed by burly Rambo-like tattooed Russians against Georgian grandmothers, children and (possibly, not a joke) puppies. Without getting too heavily into the politics of it all, it is clear to most this is hilariously biased hog wash (one of the production houses is Georgia International Films).
This would be forgivable, as a movie-goer, if the film was half decent. Green Zone wore its political sensibilities on its sleeve, but Paul Greengrass crafted a enjoyable enough and well executed movie even if it did have issues. It doesn’t need to be a emotionally wrought art house one either – Black Hawk Down demonstrated you can do excellent action alongside a decent portrayal of the experience of conflict, but it did have Ridley Scott at the helm. The Hurt Locker would be another decent blueprint for the modern war movie. 5 Days, however, eschews such influences and goes for every cliche in the book, maybe even the whole library. Bad guy playing chess with one of the heroes? Check. Damsel in distress? Check. Over the top declarations of defiance? Check. Good-at-heart minor antagonist? Check. Save-yourself-and-leave-me-to-’die’ moment? Check. Twice…
“5 Days of War eschews [good, modern] influences and goes for every cliche in the book, maybe even the whole library”
This is frustrating as the first 2 minutes (count ‘em…) are actually very well done – portraying the main protagonists getting caught in an ambush in Iraq several years earlier. However, as soon as the white knights of the coalition Georgian forces sweep in, explaining at every step who they are, it goes downhill steeply.
Renny Harlin, whose career seems to have an overall downward trend since Die Hard 2, will not be resurrecting it with this. He seems awfully fond of slo-mo scenes with heavy handed musical scores in 5DOW. Whilst his shark nonsense-fest Deep Blue Sea was enjoyably ridiculous, it is much harder to turn a blind eye to a film’s shortcomings when Samuel L Jackson isn’t having his head bitten off. The script is terrible, with so many ‘Basil Exposition’ moments coming thick and fast it is laughable (“We need to get to cover, they’re doing a second sweep before the ground troops move in!”). Despite this, the film is still not the easiest to follow at times. I have no idea what Val Kilmer’s character (who is ostensibly Dutch, but you wouldn’t know it) was doing there, presumably so the poor bloke could get some work. Andy Garcia seems to play Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili, ironically, with a cod Russian accent I would expect in a comedy skit.
Everything about this film, except for the production values, is awful. It has nothing interesting to say. Its own crapness isn’t even enough to send it sailing into so-bad-it’s-good territory. If this had been directed by, say Paul Greengrass or Ridley Scott, and written by someone who understands the idea of subtext and moral ambiguity it could have been good.
But it wasn’t…so it isn’t.